Sarkisian speaks on his new staff

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

While most college coaches typically refuse to acknowledge anything surprises them, Washington's Steve Sarkisian said Friday that he didn't expect freshly hired offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik to bolt before he'd even overseen a practice.

"I was caught off guard by it," Sarkisian said of Michalczik leaving for a post with the Oakland Raiders.

"I knew Jimmy was a really good football coach. I thought in time that we'd have to deal with it. I wasn't quite ready to deal with it this first year."

That necessitated Sarkisian's recent moves: hiring Dan Cozzetto away from Arizona State to be offensive line coach/running game coordinator and promoting Doug Nussmeier from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.

"Every coach on our offensive staff at one time or another has been a coordinator," Sarkisian said. "So there are a lot of guys who can think outside the box and not just their position group. They get the game. They have a feel for the game and an understanding that it's more than just their position group

Sarkisian also made it clear that he knew and approved of Cozzetto's reputation as a hard-driving, old-school coach.

"He brings a hard-nosed mentality to our guys up front," Sarkisian said.

Sarkisian confirmed that graduate assistant Klayton Adams, a former assistant coach at Western Washington, which has dropped football, will oversee the tight ends.

He also waved away rumors that some players were struggling with a new, more intense off-season conditioning program.

"Our kids are working their tails off," he said. ""They've bought into Coach [Ivan] Lewis' strength and conditioning program."